November 17, 2008
Import prices fell 4.7 percent in October after decreases of 3.3 percent and 3.0 percent in September and August, three of the four largest monthly declines for the index since being published monthly for the first time in December 1988. Despite falling 10.6 percent over the past three months, import prices increased 6.7 percent for the year ended in October.
The three-month decline in import prices was largely driven by falling petroleum prices which plunged 16.7 percent in October after decreasing 10.2 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, in September and August. The October drop in petroleum prices was the largest monthly decline since an 18.8-percent fall in April 2003 and the 32.4-percent decrease over the past three months is the largest quarterly decline since the three months ended in February 1991. For the October 2007-2008 period, however, petroleum prices rose 13.1 percent.
The price index for nonpetroleum imports fell 0.9 percent for the second consecutive month in October, although the index increased 5.0 percent over the past year.
In contrast, the price indexes for consumer goods and automotive vehicles each ticked up 0.1 percent in October.
These data are from the BLS International Price program. Import price data are subject to revision. Learn more in "U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes -- October 2008," (PDF) (HTML) news release USDL 08-1671.